Published by Vagabondage Press, EXPERIENCED: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fiction explores the topsy-turvy world of rock 'n' roll as only fine literature can. Its 16 compelling narratives relate the lives of touring musicians and touring fans, label signings gone awry, the evolution of life as a roadie, or (in one case) a DJ with a serial killer for a caller. While the stories are unique to each writer, you’ll discover within them an experience that is universal. Some are fiction and some non-fiction, but they’re all true.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If a musician plays...

 and no one shows up to hear him...does he still make a sound?

Closing out EXPERIENCED is Carl Peel's poignant story, "If a Tree Falls," in which a singer/songwriter, jaded by decades of ups and downs and eking out a living in the music industry, meets tremendous disappointment performing an event that had a special meaning for him. The story really strikes a chord on that universal theme of following one's hopes and dreams, but acknowledging when it's time to perform the swan song, lest one ends up chasing those dreams over a cliff.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New EXPERIENCED Review in Stereo Subversion

 You'll find a new review of EXPERIENCED up at Stereo Subversion.

Scott Elingburg writes: Rock music doesn’t like to be contained, so compiling a collection of short tales regarding the subject could end poorly.  Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact and Fiction pulls off the formula quite well, though, handling a handful of unyielding rock subjects with sly coolness.

You can read the review in its entirety here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Shopping for Music Fans

When my brother and I first got in to rock music it made gift giving, for each other at least, a lot easier come Christmastime. My mom would drop us off at some mall to do our shopping and we'd soon migrate to the record store. There I'd suggest to my brother what album might look good wrapped under the tree, and he'd do likewise with me. Over the years the usual album occasionally became a ticket for an upcoming concert, including Grateful Dead New Year's Eve shows. Those were really good Christmases.

Since, I've found mix-tapes and CDs to be the perfect stocking stuffers. Many friends are into music to the same degree that I am, and always appreciate the gesture. This year, though, the perfect gift for diehard music fans is EXPERIENCED: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fiction and I'm happy to have my name on the cover. Its compelling narratives are certain to be appreciated by music lovers of all stripes, while simultaneously cultivating their tastes in fine literature. The book makes a stronger lasting impression than a simple CD, and better yet, is more affordable than most albums you'll find in stores. Moreover, I think you'll find the books practically wrap themselves. By three and get one free at Amazon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Connections: Flannery O'Connor Meets Sufjan Stevens

Indie rock darling Sufjan Stevens is among the most literary minded musicians you'll ever find. Before his music career soared to nearly universal praise, Stevens earned an MFA in creative writing from NYC's New School. Many contemporary musicians probably don't know who Saul Bellow was. Stevens, on the other hand, named a song after him.

Like the great short story writer Flannery O'Connor, Stevens often expresses and explores his Christian faith through his art. In fact, a couple songs on Stevens' album Seven Swans, "In the Devil's Territory" and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," are based on an O'Connor essay and short story respectively. O'Connor's "Good Man" is a haunting tale of moral choice. It's one of the most famous stories of the 20th century and rightfully so. Steven's song addresses the work from the perspective of evil incarnate, the character called The Misfit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finding the Perfect Drummer

David Menconi's "Songs in the Key of E" provides EXPERIENCED with a humorous touch. In his story, sort of a rock 'n' roll version of "Who's on First?", two would-be rock stars contemplate which drummer might be the perfect fit for their future trio.

Their expectations don't always line up, and are beyond impractical (literally impossible to meet, at times, without reanimation). Nonetheless, the pair keep plugging away in hopes of one day playing MSG instead of their mothers' basements.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

EXPERIENCED Review in Lollipop

Scott Deckman provides a detailed review of EXPERIENCED in the new issue of the online music and entertainment publication Lollipop. Some of the stories appealed to him more than others, but, as he suggests: "If you're a fan of rock and fiction both, you'll most likely find something in Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fiction to float your SS Stratocaster."

You can read the entire review here

Friday, October 21, 2011

Meet the Neighbors: Dee Dee Ramone

As a Chelsea Hotel resident, Ed Hamilton met lots of wild and famous characters, as his book, Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with Artists and Outlaws in New York's Rebel Mecca, will attest. One such character, whom he writes about in EXPERIENCED, is the late Dee Dee Ramone.

In "Dee Dee's Challenge," it's quickly evident that the Ramones' bassist was no Ned Flanders or George Wilson (no surprise there). But he was definitely the kind of neighbor one would never forget.

Here's video of the Ramones at the US Festival:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Phish Heads on Tour

Devoting huge chunks of time following your favorite band isn't always easy, not even for trustafarians. In Laurel Gilbert's, "A Little Worse than Moonbeam," a busload of Phish heads find themselves with more than they bargained for once Trey's solos have ended and the parking lot cops become proverbial kids in a candy store. Once again, real life gets in the way of good, not-so-clean fun.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Connections: Delmore Schwartz & Lou Reed

One of the biggest influences on the work of iconic rocker Lou Reed was the poet & writer Delmore Schwartz. Schwartz taught creative writing at Syracuse while Reed studied there, but he was more than just his professor. He was a friend and mentor, and his powerful use of everyday language and the common vernacular in his writing, as well as his ability to find sparks of beauty and light amid the darkness of the mundane, helped shape Reed's lyrics.

On "My House," from the 1982 album,  The Blue Mask,  Reed pays tribute to his friend and teacher of "the proud and regal name Delmore."

Friday, September 30, 2011

"We're thinking of getting the band back together..."

 Few statements elicit such "mixed" feelings among fans and critics alike. The Eagles, Phish, Van Halen, The Police. It might seem like a good idea for at few seconds, maybe even a few minutes. But in the end, it's almost always a bad way to go. We know why bands keep reuniting, and it's definitely not about the music.

In J.T. Townley's "Deja Vu (All Over Again)," a band called The Real Enchiladas discuss plans to follow in the footsteps of such bands. Those who've made it through rehab and dusted off their instruments in hopes of riding the wave of hype and financial reward that comes from our longing for rock 'n' roll nostalgia. Only it might not be that easy...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review of EXPERIENCED by Book Pleasures

Happy to see EXPERIENCED get a glowing review by Dr. Wes Britton at  He describes the book as a type of kaleidoscope with each of its 16 stories colorful shards of glass. And sums things up by saying:  

"If you love rock ‘n roll and all that comes with it, you’ll not only enjoy this fast-moving book, but you’re likely to see at least one reflection of yourself in it. But as the level of writing is so high, you need not be solely interested in the subject matter to appreciate what the editors have collected here. Experienced is chock-full of memorable characters—real and imagined—settings and situations—fact and fiction—and narratives that move with the pace of a pop classic. A most enjoyable kaleidoscope indeed."

You can read the entire review here

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rock Music Shaping Our Lives

Esteemed music writer and critic Jim DeRogatis has written about leading figures in the rock 'n' roll world, including entire books on The Flaming Lips and Lester Bangs, among others. But "Bodies on the Moon," his piece in EXPERIENCED tells the story of another subject, himself, recounting those awkward teen years and how rock music helped him through. One night his band got the chance to perform at the school dance, although its set list wasn't vetted. Some songs just aren't appropriate in such circumstances.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Connections: Zak Sally

This will be the first in series I'll post periodically called "connections," whereby the lit and rock music worlds overlap. Some entries will be anecdotes, others brief profiles on multi-talented artists like EXPERIENCED contributor James Greer. Since I saw a great show by the band Low last night, I thought I'd start by writing about the bass player who wasn't there...

Zak Sally played bass for the Duluth, MN-based band Low for more than a decade. A very talented comic artist involved in the underground zine scene for years, Sally took the next step and formed his own publishing company called La Mano 21which publishes graphic novels and comic books. The small press features the work of many fine artists and writers, including some of Sally's own work. Check out its site and see for yourself. They offer many limited edition pressings.

Here's a video of Low with Sally playing "Monkey" from the album, The Great Destroyer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Rock Band on the Road

Sean Ennis is a seriously talented writer, who in an earlier life found himself traveling cross-country by van as part of a garage rock band. His "Tour Diary: Excerpts" is an exceptionally written and always captivating piece of work that draws from his experiences, and details the travails of a band that's not quite famous, or "Almost Famous," but perhaps almost almost famous. Think Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady chasing rock star dreams.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ziggy Played Guitar

Ever wake with the granddaddy of hangovers and begin to philosophize on David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and all those spiders from mars?

Me neither... but in "David Bowie Against the Enemy" Adam Moorad's protagonist Lamb undergoes a surreal morning in his little apartment and finds himself essentially communing with Ziggy.

So, with that, I say, "Pass me the bottle...and make me an alligator."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Now the Seats Are All Empty...

Let the roadies take the stage...

No rock lit anthology is complete without a story about the crew behind the scenes: the roadies, those manning  the soundboard, etc.. In EXPERIENCED, Brian Goetz pays homage to such folks whose work--like sports officials--goes largely unnoticed unless something goes wrong.

"Heavy Lifting Days" recounts Brian's decades of experience in setting up live performances, including a few of the mishaps along the way. With the advent of digital technology a lot has changed over time, but there's something to be said for all the tricks and trials employed back in the day that might provide the perfect sound, visual or effects.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

EXPERIENCED Review in The Nervous Breakdown

Caleb Powell has reviewed the book for The Nervous Breakdown and has many kind things to say. As a bass player who played in a band that struggled but had its moments, Caleb really gets it. He writes: "Anyone who loves music can understand the pull of this world of fantasy and reality; Experienced revisits and expands this dream."

Go check out the entire review at The Nervous Breakdown

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Memphis' Gift to the World

In Corey Mesler's wildly entertaining and occasionally hilarious "The Growth and Death of Buddy Gardner," a rock critic narrator plies every $10 word at his disposal to describe a rock legend from River City, a very big star. Buddy's stay amid the limelight eventually came crashing down, but not before he'd penned such classics as "Wrong for the Right of Way," "Buttermilk Thighs," and "Haley Mills' Underpants."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review of EXPERIENCED by Outsider Writers Collective

Mel Bosworth wrote a generous and insightful review of EXPERIENCED for the Outsider Writers Collective. He writes: "There’s a very real and touching nostalgia seeping through these pages, a steady drip that induces bittersweet twinges in the stomach"... and... "Experienced is an honest and wild ride through the thumping bass and scorching guitar dreams of our youth and beyond that’s well worth the price of admission. Flash your breasts or forge a ticket, but make sure you get through the gate."

You can read the entire review here

Rock Radio Studio as Confessional

In Scott Nicholson's "Dead Air," a late-night DJ at odds with management due to few listeners finds his ratings suddenly skyrocket thanks to a new caller who moonlights as femme fatale serial killer, "dynamite, exploding at no charge."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reviewed in Houston Press

Today EXPERIENCED was reviewed by Bob Rugierro, music writer for Houston Press.

Bob asks "Are You Experienced? Can You Tell Fact from Fiction?" And says "Standout pieces include a band member's account of Guided By Voices' wooing by a major label, a profile of openly gay blues harmonica player Jason Ricci, and some sketches of Dee Dee Ramone by a neighbor."

Read the full review here

Madonna...and a whole lot more...

In story numero cinco in EXPERIENCED, Harold Jaffe, the master of "docufiction," riffs on the former Louise Ciccone and mid-80's culture--everything from Madonna's navel to England's Queen mother to "Dallas" reruns to London's Sikhs to Reagan's Cabinet to technological growth to Cold War games to budding Globalization, all wrapped in an 1831 word sentence that will leave you gasping for air!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jason Ricci's LIfe on the Road

The fourth chapter of EXPERIENCED, Brad Kava's "Road Life Wearies Harmonica Virtuoso," details the ups and downs of endless touring experienced by harp great Jason Ricci and his band New Blood. Respect and admiration from peers is something Ricci has in spades, but making a comfortable living is another matter. Success on the blues circuit is hard to come by, especially when you're openly gay.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Grateful Dead Experience as Literature?

F-yeah! The third story to grace the pages of EXPERIENCED is Tim Weed's "Steal Your Face." It's a short story that would make make Mark Twain proud, as if Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn found themselves on tour with Jerry and the boys and culminated their eventful summers on a head full of acid in Colorado at the Red Rocks amphitheater in Boulder.You have to read it to believe it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

EXPERIENCED Review at Generation A.D.D.

Big thanks to Ed Wagemann for his comprehensive and insightful review of EXPERIENCED on his blog, Generation A.D.D.

Ed writes, "The Rock music world has many different layers, so many different story lines, so much history, technology, innovation, adventure, culture, creative performances and moments that are as complex and beautiful as life itself. Experienced, as the back cover promises, delves into the world of Rock music from all those angles and more."

You can check out the complete review here

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Little Leftovers

Next up in EXPERIENCED's TOC is journalist Fred De Vries' "Little Leftovers," which chronicles his dogged, halfway-round-the globe pursuit of Britpop queen Justine Frischmann, frontwoman for the band Elastica.